Update: Monday: Once again I made the mistake of forgetting that not everyone reading would know what prompted this post. What prompted it was this comment on my post about a dopy BBC film clip about natural selection and slavery and fast runners.
Oh, so it’s a thing. I didn’t know it was a thing – this “you have to be all ecstatic about the Olympics” bollix. Joan Smith says about it.
Some things matter more than sport. But I’ve come back to my own country to discover Olympic fervour encouraging a species of emotional correctness, where anyone who doesn’t care for competitive games is regarded as a killjoy. It’s like being transported to a Victorian public school, where anything less than a passionate interest in muscular athleticism is regarded with peevish suspicion. You aren’t interested in hockey or diving? You don’t care about medal tables? Shame on you!
The funny thing about that is that I’ve actually paid more attention this year than I usually do, but I still haven’t escaped the emotional correctness patrol.
I know plenty of people who’ve watched one or two Olympic events but could do without the wall-to-wall coverage, let alone shrill demands that successful athletes should be given knighthoods. Athletes are competitive people who care desperately about personal success, and I’m not convinced they deserve public honours as well as medals.
I’m there. It can be beautiful and/or impressive to watch, but it’s still just sport, it’s not heroism. It’s not geeks landing a one-ton mobile science laboratory on Mars. On Mars. There you get the incredible accomplishment and you get the mobile science laboratory on Mars. It’s not MSF or those people who repair fistulas in Ethiopia or people who teach school in Afghanistan. It’s sport. Nobody is required to take it seriously.